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I posted yesterday about activist Justin Vacula‘s 18-month-long attempt to get an atheist ad on buses in the County of Lackawanna Transit System (COLTS) in Pennsylvania.
The ad he submitted to them wasn’t an attack on religion. Hell, it wasn’t really even a promotion of atheism. All the ad did was mention the dreaded “A” word:

(Maybe the COLTS leadership just hates periods?)
On Tuesday, in response to Justin, the COLTS Board of Directors passed a newly-revised advertising policy that bans all forms of religious advertising. The ban is so far-reaching that it effectively bans ads promoting churches, quoting Bible verses, and even mentioning religion.

COLTS will not accept advertising…
… that promote the existence or non-existence of a supreme deity, deities, being or beings; that address, promote, criticize or attack a religion or religions, religious beliefs or lack of religious beliefs; that directly quote or cite scriptures, religious text or texts involving religious beliefs or lack of religious beliefs; or are otherwise religious in nature.

All this just to prevent an ad that says “Atheists.” from going on county buses.
Their refusal letter to Justin last week already went over-the-top when they said his ad “may offend or alienate a segment of [COLTS] ridership and [could] thus negatively affect its revenue” — as if Christian ads implying that non-Christians were hellbound were perfectly acceptable? — but this new policy is like killing a fly with a drone missile.
Also, I find it hard to believe that anyone would stop riding the bus because of a paid advertisement that said “Atheist.” (It’s like the COLTS board is saying, “Stop giving us money! You’re going to make us lose money!”)
It’s especially interesting to see this new policy go into effect when you consider that COLTS had no problem last year running messages saying “God Bless America,” suggesting a pro-life stance, or linking to a website promoting Holocaust denialism and white supremacy.

But, you know, “Atheist.” might offend someone.
Still, their fear of a mild atheist ad just eliminated every annoying religious ad on Lackawanna County public transit from now on. It wasn’t Justin’s intention, but I don’t think anyone will mind at all.
Just give it time, though. I suspect in a few weeks we’ll be hearing ironic whining from religious groups about how this new policy is anti-Christian.
(via Justin Vacula)

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Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.